A Final Look at CCNA’s 20th Anniversary

By certskills May 17, 2018 11:05

What does Cisco put into the #CCNA exams, and why? Those who care about any cert may wonder about some of the topics. Today’s post gives me a chance to comment on a few of the content changes over the 20 years of CCNA, based on the content questions I asked in the previous post. Nothing fancy today – just more fun facts about the history of CCNA.

Other Posts in the CCNA Anniversary Series

For convenience:


The Questions Ask: Which Exam? So Here they Are!

The previous post in the series asked eight questions about content on the CCNA exams over the years. Your job: picking which exam was the first or last exam to cover a topic. Like most, you probably don’t have all the exam numbers and announcement years memorized. Here’s a reference:


The Questions and the Answers

The following list repeats the questions – with the answers listed at the end!

  1. Which routing protocol (to a depth that included configuration) has been in the most CCNA Exam Blueprints among EIGRP, IGRP, OSPF, RIP? (Extra credit: In how many of the seven exams?) (RIP – 6 exams out of 7)
  2. What was the last CCNA to include IPX? (640-801)
  3. What was the last CCNA to include Frame Relay? (200-120)
  4. What was the first CCNA to include RSTP (802.1w)? (640-801)
  5. What was the first CCNA to include OSPF Configuration? (640-801)
  6. What was the first CCNA to include VLANs? (640-407)
  7. What was the first CCNA to include Metro Ethernet WANs? (200-120)
  8. What was the first CCNA to include DMVPN? (200-125)


Why Wendell found these Content Questions Interesting

I asked each question in the list because I found the content choices and transitions interesting for some reason. I’ll close with a few comments as to what I found interesting. What transitions surprised you the most?

IP Routing Protocols (Question 1): For IP routing protocols, Cisco included RIP in the exam from the beginning. They then removed RIP for the 200-120 exam (2013) and then added back for 200-125 (2016). Go figure. Including RIP in the early CCNA exams made some sense. Including it in later exams makes sense only as a learning tool, but it is useful for that purpose. Of course, Enterprises use mostly EIGRP and OSPF (See also related Question 5.)

Multiple Layer 3 Protocols (Question 2): In the old days, the full term for “router” was “multiprotocol router”, as in multiple layer 3 protocols. The very first CCNA exam included IPX, the layer 3 protocol from the Novell Netware protocol stack. Before Cisco announced CCNA back in 1998, the associated introductory course included several layer 3 protocols, including DecNet and Appletalk. CCNA included IP and IPX for the first 4 versions of the exam before Cisco finally dropped IPX.

WAN and Frame Relay (Questions 3 and 7): Frame Relay dominated the WAN market in the 1990s and into the early 2000’s, and CCNA featured Frame Relay quite a bit as a result. Over time, WAN providers offered better services with ATM, MPLS, and Metro Ethernet, along with the ability to use the Internet as a WAN with VPNs. It only made sense for Frame Relay to disappear from CCNA, which Cisco did for the 200-120 exam, released in 2013 (Question 3). What to add? Metro E, but not to the same depth so far (added in 2013 with exam 200-120.)

RSTP (802.1w) (Question 4): The answer to question 4 shows that Cisco added RSTP (IEEE 802.1w) to the CCNA exam for the 640-801 exam, released in 2003.  The IEEE finalized 802.1w in 2001, so including 802.1w in CCNA might seem pretty quick. However, Cisco already did many of the new 802.1w functions as proprietary functions before the IEEE finalized 802.1w. It just made sense to cover the standard mechanisms, and it was indeed a popular set of features, particularly with portfast (RSTP point-to-point edge ports).

IP Routing Protocols (Question 5): By 1998, when the first CCNA exam came out, RIP was at best the 3rdplace routing protocol in popularity. By 1998, many enterprises already used OSPF or IGRP (which Cisco soon replaced with EIGRP), while many enterprises had already moved away from using RIP other than in small pockets in their networks. So why did it take until the 640-801 exam, the 4thiteration of CCNA, in 2003, for Cisco to add OSPF?

We can’t know for sure, but a couple of reasons come to mind. First, the first several versions of CCNA matched the content in a 1-week course, and later a 1-week course plus a 1-2 day e-learning product. CCNP R&S was sometimes a 4 or even 5 exam certification (with matching 1-week courses). So OSPF, IGRP, and EIGRP just didn’t fit in CCNA. Additionally, Cisco eventually grew CCNA from being based on a single 1-week course when CCNA first began back in 1998 to being based on two separate 1-week courses by the 2003 version of CCNA (640-801). Simply put, CCNA had doubled in size content-wise, so there was more space for topics. Some of those moved down from what Cisco already covered in CCNP (for example, OSPF and EIGRP basics).

VLANs (Question 6): As noted in Question 6’s answer, CCNA has included VLANs since the beginning. I asked the question only because people might not remember, and indeed, VLANs were already crucial in networks back in 1998.

DMVPN (Question 8): Once the market turned to MPLS, Metro Ethernet in various flavors, and Internet VPN, CCNA began to include small bits of each WAN topic, leaving more for CCNP. (That ebb and flow between what Cisco adds and removes from CCNA R&S vs. CCNP R&S continues today.) DMVPN, one popular option for Enterprises to use the Internet as a WAN service while reducing the amount of required pre-configuration, made it into CCNA in this latest version of the exam in 2016, with exam 200-125.



Thanks for taking this walk through the history of CCNA with me as we pass by the 20thanniversary of CCNA. Hope you’ve enjoyed the look back. Now back to studying!




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By certskills May 17, 2018 11:05
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